Sunday, June 12, 2016

Family Vacation // Ft. Walton Beach, FL

Our family spent 6 days in sunny Florida for a much-needed vacation away, and we all had the best time! This was the first family trip we've ever made without Jacob, so we were all sad to go without him. (Sadly, it was the only time we could make it work this summer. We bought him postcards and a few souvenirs to open when he got home, so he would know he was loved and missed.)

Here's a quick recap of our fun-filled week:

Day One

This was our driving day. Ten hours driving with the "problem child." Our minivan. It had random bouts of not starting before we left for the trip, so we just hoped and prayed we'd get to Florida and back home safely without any major trouble. (After 4 days in the shop, the dealer couldn't find anything wrong with it and we had recently replaced the battery, even though we continued having trouble starting it at times. So, so frustrating, but anyhoo...)

The kids did awesome on the way down.

Connor had his first episode of public urination - or as Scot called it, his first "road pee." He marked his territory somewhere along the fields of Alabama, and we couldn't stop laughing. What we parents of boys do. :)

We arrived at Scot's Uncle Mike + Aunt Linda's house sometime later that evening. They were so sweet to let this family of four invade their space and stay for 6 whole days!

Their house is just amazing and has some beautiful views:

Day Two

The next day, Monday, had a 70% chance of rain, so we purposely planned several indoor things we could do as a family. We went to the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum first.

(An illustration of a Prisoner of War - Brooklyn and Connor thought a real man was sitting behind bars and lived there. Ha!)

Even though we go here to visit almost every year, this place always moves me. Freedom is not free. You can't look at the planes, the faces of the injured, the videos + stories of the heroes who saved us, learning about our country's history and not be grateful. Just walking down the street wherever and whenever we want is such a blessing and something I don't take for granted. There is a cost for the freedom we have.

The fun time - souvenirs!

Next, we headed to the Indian Mound Museum in Ft. Walton.

The kids' favorite was this old 1900's schoolhouse.

The docent showed us two toys that were popular in the early 1900's - Jacob's Ladder and some metal pole with a bird that pecked up and down. The kids loved them!

After the museum tours, we went to Stewby's Seafood Shanty for a late lunch/early dinner and their chicken and fried okra was amazing!

We ended the night by attending the Billy Bowlegs Torchlight Parade in Ft. Walton. (It's the city's annual parade to celebrate Captain Billy and the Krewe of Bowlegs who share their "wealth" with the crowd on the streets.) The kids had so.much.fun. They yelled, they screamed, their faces lit up with joy. It was so fun to watch these two in action that night. And let me tell you, their bags were overflowing with loads of cups, t-shirts, string beads + candy to take home!

Day Three

Tuesday was our big day at Big Kahuna's water park. We got there right when they opened at 10am and the kids were having so much fun that we didn't leave until they closed at 6pm! Both kids went on almost every water slide they had. It was a fun-filled day.

After changing clothes in the van, we decided on a whim to go to the Back Porch Restaurant (our favorite) in Destin for a late dinner. The kids bought a couple souvenirs in the candy gift shop nearby and we even snuck in a late-night walk on the beach before we headed home.

Day Four

We spent a few hours of the day on Wednesday marking our spot on the Destin beach before heading to the Crab Shack for a late lunch. The kids didn't like this spot as much because it was dirtier than our last visit and there weren't any seashells. (Plus, Connor was tired and didn't want anything to do with the water.) But, we made the most of it and enjoyed the beautiful view!

That night was dinner with family hosted by Uncle Mike + Aunt Linda at their house. We were tired and busy talking with Scot's cousins and aunts + uncles that we didn't even take any pics. But, it was such a fun night!

Day Five

On Thursday, we drove to Navarre and finally got to visit the Butterfly House. (We've been wanting to visit this place for years.) The kids loved learning about the whole life cycle of butterflies and seeing all the beautiful butterflies flying around in the outdoor house.

Then we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the Navarre Beach. The kids' favorite - there were seashells galore! We ended the night with a family dinner at Pompano Joe's. (Missing Jake terribly...)

The next morning was an early one as we got everything packed and ready to go. We said our goodbyes to Uncle Mike + Aunt Linda and started the long drive home. (After making a last-minute stop in Destin to exchange one of Jake's souvenir t-shirts for a larger size - which added some extra time to our trip but was totally worth it!)

Such a fun week away. A bittersweet trip for all of us.

Thankful for every minute.

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